The latest short from Latvian animator Gints Zilbalodis sees him once again continuing his distinct storytelling style, with another dialogue-free film featuring an unmistakable aesthetic. The emotive tale of a musician who loses his hearing after a freak accident, Inaudible is another entry into the filmmaker’s catalogue that once again perfectly highlights the strength of his particular approach.
“A story about a musician who becomes deaf was perfect for my sensibilities as a filmmaker”
With Zilbalodis happy to admit that he usually swerves dialogue-driven narratives because he’s “very bad” at writing conversational pieces, the filmmaker chose his storyline with his approach very much in mind. “I thought that a story about a musician who becomes deaf was perfect for my sensibilities as a filmmaker”, says Zilbalodis, “and I could have an excuse of not having any dialogue because the main character is deaf. I wanted to make a story that is more about internal conflict rather than external conflict. It’s a story about an artist facing difficulties of life and I relate to that. The two central themes are communication and confidence. Subjects that I’m constantly thinking about”.
As a follower and fan of Zilbalodis’ work, his approach to storytelling interests me no end, but what I find even more intriguing is how this lack of speech never seems to restrict the emotive and resonating power of his films and Inaudible is another strong example of this. If anything, the lack of dialogue and some clever sound work means the frustration and despair of our recently deaf protagonist is only magnified and we really get a sense of perspective through the filmmaker’s approach.
Visually, once again Inaudible feels instantly recognisable as a Zilbalodis’ film, but at the same time there are some noticeable differences from his last couple of films. Gone is the roving, handheld-style camerawork and long-takes seen in both Priorities and Followers and in their place the animator has employed a static camera and a much more energetic pace to his edit.
Taking about 7-months to create, Zilbalodis’ created everything in his film himself (except for the music) and his approach to production may go some way to explaining his distinct style. “The unusual thing about my workflow is that I don’t write a script, or draw storyboards”, Zilbalodis admits. “I made only 4 pieces of concept art for this film…I had the backbone of the story and a few key scenes in my head. I started doing some movement tests for the main character. I kept doing more and more tests trying to find a way to display the personality of the character and after a while I realised, that I had already animated a large part of the film. I set up some cameras and created shots from the movement tests. Then I edited all of the footage together. This process was more similar to editing a live-action film rather than an animated film. All of the processes were very organic and blended together. The story kept evolving too. I changed the order of shots and scenes all the time trying to find the right balance between clarity and intensity.”
With the final cut of the film only completed one-week before its online release, although Zilbalodis already has a new idea for his next film, the time spent working on Inaudible means he hasn’t been able to even think about starting work on his next project yet. You can keep up-to-date with Gints’ work on Vimeo, Tumblr or Twitter and at the pace he seems to work, don’t be too surprised if we see another film from him in the not-too-distant future…no pressure Gints!!